Q:

What’s the difference between a travel pack and a backpacking pack?

What is the difference between a travel pack and a backpacking pack? I bought the Deuter Quantum 70+10 to take along on the Superior Trail next summer, and now I wonder if it was a good choice. Ross Winona, Minnesota

Oct 20, 2006
Outside
Outside Magazine
Deuter Quantum 70+10

Quantum 70+10

A:

The difference between a travel pack and a backpacking pack is largely one of details. Mainly, a travel pack should be designed so that the straps can be completely tucked away, as many airlines don’t like to check bags with loose straps. Some have handy pockets for wallets or passports, and many also have zip-off bags attached to the back that can be used as daypacks. (I strongly advocate their use, along with displaying a large neon sign that says “I’m a tourist. Rob me!")

Interestingly, although the Deuter Quantum 70+10 ($209; www.deuterusa.com) is billed as a travel pack, it really is a pretty straightforward backpack. To me, that’s a good thing. For instance, it has an excellent suspension that is not compromised by a stowaway feature. Instead, a zip-out cover basically puts the pack in its own duffel, an approach I’ve always advocated. It does have one of the previously mentioned removable daypacks, but you can leave that at home.

So I wouldn’t have any qualms about taking the Deuter on the Superior Trail next year. It’s a solid pack that will manage 40 pounds or more fairly easily.

As an aside, a pack I regard as a typical travel pack is Eagle Creek’s Grand Voyage 90L ($220; www.eaglecreek.com). It’s a big pack, 5,600 cubic inches, with stowaway straps, boarding pass pocket, day pack, and other travel-friendly features. I’d take it to Italy or Indonesia, but I wouldn’t take it backpacking. The suspension just isn’t designed for extended hiking with heavy loads. But it’s a great travel pack.

Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including a comprehensive backpacks section, in the 2006 Buyer’s Guide.

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